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Pieper v. United States

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20135
Nos. 16-2035, (4th Cir., 10/20/2017)

The Fourth Circuit held that a proposed class of residents alleging that improper chemical disposal at a Frederick, Maryland, Army base contaminated their groundwater can't sue the government. The residents brought a claim under the Federal Torts Claim Act alleging that the Army negligently disposed of hazardous chemicals including trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene, and failed to adequately remediate the resulting groundwater contamination. The government moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the discretionary function exception to the FTCA, which protects government policy choices from lawsuits. The court sided with the government, holding that the Army’s waste disposal and remediation practices at Fort Detrick fall squarely within the discretionary function exception to the FTCA. The case was dismissed.